Once a quarter or so, we hold the Senior Leadership Forum, bringing together a wide range of leaders from each of our five hospitals from all sorts of different professional backgrounds. This is a really important thinking space and helps to bring our five hospitals together. We took the opportunity to talk through the Big Conversation – that’s the work we’re doing to give all our colleagues a chance to shape the future for UHDB. We talked through the ‘Why?’, which is our purpose, the ‘How?’ – which are our values and behaviours; really the way we treat each other, our patients and our partners, and the ‘What?’, which are the big ticket items we are going to do. We’ve had some brilliant ideas and comments.

As part of the next stage of our Clever Together Big Conversation, we’ll feedback the findings so far and you’ll be able to have your say for a week from the 14 January 2019. What you say will all feed through to our new UHDB strategy, which we’re developing and will be ready at the end of March 2019. Prof Judith Smith came along to help us think through some of the challenges facing the NHS. She’s an expert in Health Policy at the University of Birmingham. Judith is also a non-executive at Birmingham Women’s and Children’s Hospital, who have recently gone through their own merger, and she was able to talk about some of her learning from this. Developing our relationships with our regional universities is really important and we are the first organisation in the UK to offer a masters level apprenticeship in leadership, in partnership with University of Birmingham’s Health Service Management Centre.

At the event, I bumped into the irrepressible Tracy Selsby-Orlandi, who leads Occupational Health. Tracy was telling me that we are on track to achieve 75% of you having the flu jab, so well done you!  But if you’ve not had your jab yet – what are you waiting for! 

On Tuesday, the Board met and we talked of all things winter, including the modular ward that has been built on Car Park 1 at RDH and a similar being built at QHB in March as part of the Treatment Centre there. Also the additional ward at LRCH will be available to us next week and we expect it to open over the festive period.

We always have a patient story at the Board; sometimes when things have gone well and times when they should’ve gone better. This time we listened to one of the most heart-breaking patient stories I have heard in my time. On this occasion, it was a very sad account of the treatment of a young patient who sadly passed away and there were aspects of their care, particularly towards the end, that should have been better. It was an incredibly moving story, but the really important message is that we learn when things don’t go right to make things better and safer. I was glad to see that this experience had prompted some real changes for the better.

The Board was visited by Carolyn Jenkinson, from the CQC. As you know, we are expecting an inspection in the New Year. We don’t know exactly when because it’s a surprise!  Carolyn talked us through the process and how the inspections work. Don’t be apprehensive about the visit – be yourselves and be true to your service. We want the CQC to see us for how we really are, we know what we have to improve, we also have a great story to tell them about the amazing things we do.

Primary Care are important partners and the relationship between GPs and hospital doctors is critical to us, so I’m looking forward to a lunchtime meeting today with some of our local GPs and hospital consultants to talk through how we build on this important relationship and support the delivery of more joined up care. I’m also meeting with some of our local MPs, from both sides of the house to update them on our merger progress and preparations for Winter.

And finally, last night we held our Long Service Awards. My apologies for not being there, I had to deal with a family issue that meant a long night of motorway driving, but when not driving I was following the event on Twitter. Dr Magnus Harrison stepped in for me. I think the people in the room had given over 5,000 years of service to the NHS, which outlines the commitment and loyalty of our staff. Thank you to all who were there.

I’m looking forward to next week, especially to see who the winners of the best dressed ward across all five hospitals will be. I’ve already seen some amazing entries – so thanks everybody for getting involved and bringing a little Christmas spirit.

Best wishes